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Recommended Tools for the Professional Web Developer

I've always been a proponent of having the right tools for the right job. If you don't have the right tools, you might as well have a rock and chisel.

I've also been asked by new developers what tools do professionals use for web development.

So I thought I'd use this page to cover tools and utilities I've used over the years when building Microsoft-based web solutions.

Table of Contents

Development Tools (IDE)

Visual Studio 2013 2015 2017 2019 2022 Enterprise

This is my primary tool for web development. The Microsoft tool has not only become the defacto standard for editors in usabiility and ease-of-use, but has become a breeding ground for add-ons that extend the IDE to work with other languages like F#, Python, and PHP.

Visual Studio Code

Not only has Visual Studio Code climbed to become number two in regards to all editors, but it's ability to use any language in the editor along with it's treasure-trove of extensions is second only to it's big brother, Visual Studio (proper). Also, one of my favorite editors.

JetBrains WebStorm

I remember buying WebStorm for $25 when it first came out. Back then, there wasn't VS Code and WebStorm was definitely a time-saver.

When I have a small HTML Project or want to create an HTML prototype, I don't need to break out the big VS2xxx IDE. I load up WebStorm from JetBrains (this sounds like a commercial).

JetBrains ReSharper

ReSharper is a must-have Visual Studio extension for all developers. Not only does it incorporate the refactoring techniques from the Refactoring book, but it also has a number of coding features that make a developers life easier. It has already saved me a TON of time developing. Why are you still reading this?!? GO BUY IT NOW!

Recommended Reading:

ASP.NET (alpha to present)

Since we are talking about ASP.NET, this is my current web framework that I absolutely love. Ever since the Internet arrived and Microsoft introduced Classic ASP, I've been a Microsoft advocate (maybe even evangelist?). While this site contains a number of ASP.NET MVC (and Core!) posts, I continue to focus on ASP.NET-related web techologies along with web performance since it's such an issue with most websites today.

Recommended Reading:


Every once in a while, you find a technology that will change how you build applications. SignalR is one of those technologies from Microsoft that I absolutely love. I remember a long time ago when AJAX came on the scene around 2002-ish. I mentioned that the lines between a fat-client and website were beginning to blur.

This technology levels the playing field and shows that you can build a website, not leave the page, and still receive data while maximizing the user experience, not to mention improve performance as well.

Recommended Reading:

MEF (Managed Extensibility Framework)

When I wanted to create a website using a "plug-in" model, my first DI (Dependency Injection) framework I grabbed was MEF. This is the same technology that Microsoft uses in Visual Studio.

StructureMap/Lamar Lamar (Dependency Injection library)

I've moved on from Ninject and StructureMap has morphed into Lamar for ASP.NET Core.


I've moved from RhinoMocks to Moq because of RhinoMocks' "magic strings" where Moq uses lambdas.

Recommended Reading:


Both are battle-tested. Good to have in your arsenal.

Recommended Reading:

T4 Templates

If you've been around since Visual Studio 2005, you know about T4 (Text Template Transformation Toolkit) and how it creates code at the touch of 2 keys (CTRL and S). For those who don't know, Visual Studio has it's own Code Generator right inside the editor.

Create your template with an extension of .tt and press CTRL-S to save it and Visual Studio will generate any type of code you want: C#, XML, SQL, etc. If you have a pattern of how to develop your applications, this will increase your code development tremendously. It even attaches to databases/tables and generates code based on database data. All built-in.

Recommended Reading:

Web Essentials

Mads and his team are doing a fantastic job with building this extremely easy to use extension for Visual Studio. It contains a JavaScript/CSS minifier, Image Optimizer/Sprite builder, support for TypeScript, CoffeeScript, JSLint, TSLint, and others. Too much to explain in one paragraph.



My language of choice (it is one of the top 5 languages for development) whether it's Windows, WebForms, APIs, or MVC.


It's the official language of the web. What more is there to say? It's an absolute must to learn it.

TypeScript / vanilla JavaScript

Since TypeScript distills down to JavaScript and TypeScript is becoming similar to my favorite language (C#), it just makes sense to learn TypeScript.

I mean, c'mon...it's one of the most popular languages based on developers.


SQL Server 2000-present

Naturally, you have to have a database of some type to store your data. Since I use Visual Studio, of course, this comes along for the ride as well. I focus primarily on 2008R2, 2012, and 2014.


SQLComplete is like a ReSharper for SQL Server. It performs autocompletes, formats your SQL (there are a TON of formatting preferences), Document Outline, and Snippets Manager, which I use heavily for SQL tuning.

JetBrains DataGrip

Similar to WebStorm, I decided to kick the tires on this IDE as well.

DataGrip is an IDE for just about any SQL Database you use on a regular basis. It covers SQL management for SQL Server, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Derby, DB2, mySql, SqlLite, and H2.

Even though it doesn't have a SQL Query Analyzer, it provides excellent intellisense-like suggestions for your databases and tables.

I mean, c'mon, these are the same people who wrote ReSharper...it's just in a SQL IDE now.


Twitter's Bootstrap (1.0-present)

Bootstrap is a favorite of mine and, yes, I'm still rockin' it. The majority of Bootstrap does the work for me. As an added bonus, Bootstrap also has a responsive grid system built for you with other JavaScript/design goodies as well.

...and since Bootstrap now uses pure JavaScript and not jQuery, I feel I'll be using Bootstrap for a while.

Recommended Reading:

Affinity Tools

The Serif folks now place their design tools under the Affinity umbrella now. While I do use these tools specifically, every once in a while I use Paint.NET for quick updates.

Their tools include:

  • Affinity Designer - Image Editor for vector images
  • Affinity Photo - Raster Editor for bitmap images
  • Affinity Publisher - Desktop Publishing Software (I was able to create a number of eBooks with Publisher)


Paint.NET is probably one of the best open-source graphics programs out there and the best part is that it's built with .NET.

Video Editing

Sony MAGIX Vegas Pro 16 Suite (affiliate link)

Every once in a while, I edit some videos, whether they are personal or for my blog. I've been using Vegas Pro since version 10.

Recently, Sony transferred their creative software over to MAGIX. So we'll see what comes of that out of that transition.

Why did I decide to go with Vegas Pro instead of another Video Editing Software?

Because Vegas was made using C# and .NET and you can easily write plug-ins using C# and .NET. Actually sounds like a good blog post ;-)

HitFilm Pro 13

Anyone who knows me understands how much I LOVE movies. I am definitely a movie fanatic.

I've also wanted to learn how to achieve special effects in my videos.

This is what attracted me to HitFilm.

It was originally packaged with Sony Vegas Pro back in version 11 or 12 and I've been a fan of it ever since.

Web Hosting

GoDaddy Hosting (affiliate Link)

I've been using GoDaddy for the last 15 years for my domain and hosting needs. I've only had one major issue in the past and they cleared it up relatively quick.

They even have platforms like WordPress, Umbraco, and Orchard for spinning up Content Management Systems (CMSs) with the push of a button.

BlueHost (affiliate link)

A couple of my most trusted friends have recommended BlueHost to others for a simple web hosting platform for ASP.NET web sites.

You can even get a hosting account for new customers for $2.95 a month!


Pluralsight (affiliate link)

I always try to keep ahead of the technology curve so I try to learn as much as I can. Pluralsight is my go-to for learning new technology.

Even though it's $30/month, you can watch as many courses as you want. On average, most courses are 2-4 hours.

So if you paid $30 for the month, tried 4 courses, and didn't like them, you can cancel your subscription with no strings attached.

One other site I would recommend as well is Udemy.com (affiliate link)


Dashlane (affiliate link) - Never forget another password!

Dashlane is what I consider to be the best password manager and security software out there.

Being a web developer, you log into a LOT of services where usernames and passwords are essential. I've been on the Internet since '94 and I still have some of my passwords from olden days. I currently have around 800 usernames and passwords.

Of course, no one would be able to remember that many passwords.

Recommended Reading:

Finished...For Now

Over the years, I've been asked by web developers "What do the professionals use in their day-to-day lives."

I'm hoping this list of resources answers that question and will assist you in your Microsoft Web Development career.

As a sidenote, this list will become a living document as I continue throughout my career.